What surprised me the most about The Martian was the fact that it was directed by Ridley Scott.
The same man who did dark films such as Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982), Gladiator (2000), Black Hawk Down (2001), and (the very underrated) Prometheus (2012), Scott is always great at visual style. What I did not know was he could do it with light comedy (although I admit I forgot he made the 2003 film Matchstick Men, also underrated).
The film starts out on Mars, with a strong storm forcing the Ares crew to return home to earth. On the way, one of the crew, Mark Watney, is hit by debris, and is pressumed dead. Of course, he is not actually dead (or the movie would not have happend).
Watney is played by the always talented Matt Damon, but even I was a little surprised he was able to do a performance where comedy was not needed, but still adds to the story. It is the type of attitude from a character that I like (recently I saw Jupiter Ascending, and the Mila Kunis character was the exact opposite: totally boring. In fairness, she was just one of a lot of things wrong with that film.)
The film also has a very strong supporting cast. The crew captain is played by the wonderful Jessica Chastain. Sean Bean, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Jeff Daniels are in charge of NASA. Even Kristen Wiig gets a chance to show she can be more than just comedic.
The film does have some flaws, as it does drag at times, and I did find myself looking at my watch more than one occasion. Also, there is a lot of title crawls showing us information not needed. I understand why we need to know what day it is to show how long Mark Watnay is on Mars (and he is there for sometime). What I don’t get is why we need to see everyone on Earth’s name and job title.
Parents, the film is rated PG-13 mainly for swearing (two or three F words) but nothing sexual. It is definetly ok for middle school and up.
I end by saying that I thing film had a great message at the end. One that everyone in the world can apply to on Earth, not just on Mars.
Overall: Four Stars ****